Q&A with Bill McNamara, head coach of the Patriot’s 8A state championship winning team

Sabrina Szos, Staff Reporter

What has been your favorite part of this season?

I think my favorite part of the season is everyday when we walk out onto the practice field and have the opportunity to coach and be around our team. We have a lot of fun and work hard at practice. There’s a lot of growth and development that goes on as well. But what I really enjoyed was the day-to-day interaction with our players and coaches.

What was your proudest moment as a coach this season?

Our team does so much for so many. They made great donations to Lake County Pads, and they do many community service projects. As far as football is concerned, they brought their lunch buckets to work everyday. They practice hard; they play hard. They were confronted with many challenges this year, and they stepped up to every single one of them. And then to walk away with the State Championship was truly special.

While in the bus to Champaign, what was running through your mind?

The thoughts of our game plan. How we’re going to put our players in the best position to win. The decisions that need to be made and the excitement. Controlling emotions so we can play well. There’s a lot of things that go through your mind before a big game. It was very comforting knowing that we have great, very mature players that can handle unique situations like playing in a state championship game. There was a little bit of nervousness but there was also a lot of comfort knowing that we were surrounded by great coaches and players.

When Stevenson won against Homewood Flossmoor what was your initial reaction?

It was a huge sigh of relief. When we recovered the fumble off of a great defensive play, I knew we had about two or three more plays to close the deal. My focus was on that area—how are we going to finish this game off? Once we took the final snap and the game was over, it was a huge elation. Excitement for our team, our coaches, the school and the community. The Patriot Nation came out in force. It was really a special night.

Is there anything in specific that helped the team such a successful season?

It’s a long process. The major idea is the fact that these kids worked from the time their season was over last year up to and through this season. It just doesn’t magically happen that you show up in August, play well and win football games. Our players and coaches were devoted. From the second our season ended last year, they were in the weight room. They went to morning speed and agility training workouts. They watched each other, pushed each other and built great chemistry and a family-like attitude throughout their off season. That foundation is what carried us through a successful season.

What will you do next year to achieve the same or top the success as this year?

When we prepare for a season, we do not talk about winning and losing.  We talk about a life style of commitment, selflessness, honesty, teamwork and hard work.  If a team buys into being the best person/player they can be for our football team and in life, then the winning and successes follow. The coaching staff is so proud of our past successes as a team and of each individual player, and we believe that our team next year can achieve greatness if they buy into the process to be champions.